After September 11, 2001, many people were saying many things about what the Quran says or doesn’t say. I felt I didn’t have enough information to make any decisions, so I needed to educate myself by reading the Quran. After reading it from cover to cover, I discovered there was nothing in it that I found objectionable, but it wasn’t for me.
I had decided Islam wasn’t right for me at that time because most of my interactions with known Muslim men were distasteful. I was told I must discard beliefs I held sacred or I was barraged with proposals of marriage from men I had never met.
Rather than bringing me closer to Allah, being told what I must do and how I must dress and act drove me further away. One exchange ended with me angrily telling someone I would never cover my hair in shame or fear. That statement still holds true, even though I now choose to wear hijab.
15 years later, as the Islamophobic rhetoric of the presidential campaign inspired acts of violence, my mate reverted. We had many conversations about the oppression of women and what the Quran had to say. Out of curiosity, I decided to reread it and learned it supported my views about equal treatment for women.
When my mate was ready to visit a mosque for Jummah, I suggested a local masjid attended by several friends. After, I asked questions about what was said and how everyone was treated. This continued for months.
He ended up going to a different masjid where he felt more comfortable, and his descriptions of interactions made me curious enough to start attending community events sponsored by the masjid. I started live-streaming Jummah to get more familiarity as well as observe for myself without being observed.
In January, as the first travel ban took place, I went to Jummah with him. I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed with open arms, and I was more surprised to learn the women’s area felt safe and welcoming rather than oppressive. I’ve started observing the daily prayers and haven’t missed Jummah since my first week.